Avoiding overpacking

10 June 2010

I’m leaving for a weekend trip to attend a family wedding. As I think about packing, I thought I’d share my method for ensuring I don’t overpack.

I’ve been doing this for years — decades, really. I think I invented this system. And I’m happy to share it.

Here’s what I do:

  • I think about the clothes I’d like to take on the trip and make a list. It usually includes the clothes I’m particularly fond of wearing these days, or ones I feel really good in.
  • I number each item in the list

I did this last night for my trip. And I took a picture. (The backs of envelopes are good for this.)

  • I make a list of the days I’ll be there. Since there’s usually a change of clothes, I’ll have columns for AM and PM. (If there were going to more than one change of clothes in a day, I’d increase the number of columns.)
  • I put together outfits for each day, using the numbers next to each item on the packing list.
  • I go through the numbers (looking for each number, in order) and make sure that each number is represented. If there’s no number 5, for instance, on the outfit list, I scratch item number five off my packing list.

Here’s my outfit list for this trip:

There was no item number five!

A nice bonus is that if I want, I can bring along the lists and then I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear each day.

I don’t list undergarments (unless there’s something special) or jewelry. I certainly could list jewelry, but I don’t have that much and I just sort of eyeball it.

I hope you find it helpful. I’ve made my packing list but haven’t packed for my trip yet — we’re leaving after I get home from a client this afternoon. It’s so nice to have the list; packing will be a snap!

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What a great idea Janine. I don’t over pack usually, but I do spend more time than I should trying to figure out if I have enough clothes. This should take care of that problem.

Patti 06/15/2010 08:38 AM

Thanks, Patti! I’m surprised that in all the years I’ve known you (and all the trips I’ve taken to see you) that I haven’t ever shared my packing method with you! I hope you find it helpful next time you’re going on a trip.

Janine Adams 06/15/2010 09:25 AM

One thing I do, esp because I do not check my luggage, is keep the packing list, look at it at the end of the trip, make adjustments/comments for items that did not work or I didn’t need, and leave the list in my bag for the next trip. Comes in handy for visiting family or any repeat trips. I no longer have to think about what I “might” need.

Lynn 06/15/2010 04:41 PM

Lynn, that’s a brilliant idea! Thanks so much for sharing it.

Janine Adams 06/15/2010 04:45 PM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

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